Merrell Outbound Mid Leather backpacking boots deliver comfort, firmness of sole, and ankle support you’ll need in the back country. Although the Merrell Outbound Mid Leather backpacking boots are not specifically designed, nor rated for, severe cold weather use, they ran into some stiff weather nonetheless. Because of the waterproof GORE-TEX Gasket construction, GORE-TEX Performance Comfort Lining treated with Aegis (bacteria control) and waterproof full-grain leather boot uppers, these Outbound boots kept the feet dry and warm (with two pair of wool boot socks) in temperatures down to 20-d
If you’ll recall, it wasn’t all that long ago where the best you could do for setting up your boots for winter weather was to waterproof the uppers, seal the sole welts, and wear more than one pair of winter socks — a lighter inner pair and a heavy-wool outer pair. Modern boot insulation materials were not as available as they are today. The point being, these Merrell Outbound boots are waterproof to begin with and they worked great in cold weather with two pair of boot socks on each foot.
The Outbound boots we tested required no significant break-in period, as they were comfortable and ready to work soon as they were laced up. We say this because the first trip they were worn on took us into fairly rugged terrain with dropping temperatures, mud, ice, slush, and a couple feet of snow fall. There were no dry, summer-like, trail or test scenarios for this boot during our core-evaluation time. It was all nasty weather and, perhaps, colder than ideal.
Comfort kicks in soon as you slip your feet into a pair. Your feet bottoms rest on 4.5mm thick (.2-inch) Ortholite foot bed and Grade 4 Spring Motion insole, a combination designed to work with the padded, yet breathable bellows tongue, and padded Lycra boot-top collar. Merrell mid-sole Air Cushion technology enables the boot suspension to absorb trail-contact shock up to four times the body weight. If you pull out the foot bed, you’ll notice the indented impression at the heel end of each boot. This pronounced cup is a central construction feature that keeps the heel centered and stable in the boot. Adding to this notion of comfort and stability is the silicone molded synthetic instep and heel stability arm, exterior full-length toe and heel bumpers, and deep lug (7mm) Outbound Vibram soles.
All this is cinched to your foot with robust metal hook and eyelet lacing system that secures the laces without abrasion. Laces are long enough for a single wrap around the boot collar before tie-off, which is nice for that extra snug feel. The padded boot tongue not only adds comfort, but it helps when you take long strides and, with every step, your shin is in full contact with the front, tongue padded, part of the boot.
With pack weights of 40 to 50 pounds, Merrell Outbound boots provided the kind of ankle and foot support you’ll need for multi-day and long-mileage trips with significant pack weights. These are true backpacking boots! Outbound has the integrated foot-bed, insole, midsole, and outsole technology built into these boots to cushion and absorb those trail shocks your body endures with a heavy pack on. They are designed with enough outsole rigidity to provide stability with a heavy pack on, and with enough ankle and foot support to protect your ankles from being easily twisted on rocks and uneven ground.
For those of you researching a true backpacking boot that has all the design characteristics, plus a relatively light physical weight (3.5 pounds for men’s), that you need to literally live in them for days at a time, these are boots you are wise to consider. They retail at a price point of $210.00 a pair. They look good, work perfect with a pack on, and they never were less than completely comfortable. No blisters, no hot spots. There is no reason to think the Merrell Outbound Mid are anything less than high-quality backpacking boots that’ll return your 105 bucks investment per foot on a single multi-day trip into the backcountry. They are available in men’s sizes: 7-12, 13, 14, and 15.
It would be great if these boots were crampon and snow-shoe compatible as they also proved very capable of protecting the feet in mild to moderately cold temperatures outdoors. Outbound Mid Leathers are right on the borderline of being boots you can drive a vehicle in comfort. They are a little more specialized that that. Although during one test trip in winter conditions, these boots were exclusively worn while driving a pickup on icy, ugly, snow covered dirt road mountain terrain, and they were the only boots capable enough to keep the feet warm, dry, and comfortable for several days. Recommended? It would be irresponsible not to.Text And Photos By Rick Shandley